The oil painting that is Kruger

30 October 2018

I woke up at 04:00 needing the loo, but didn’t get up to go until nearly 05:00, by which time I was wide awake, as were half our neighbours, who were clattering around and slamming doors, oblivious (or uncaring) of their sleeping neighbours. Cornelia slept until 06:00, woken by a sore tummy and releasing lots of trapped wind. Delightful! Stinky session over, she clambered in for a cuddle for the final time in BigBell.

Daddy went off for a shower, so I prepared breakfast and packed everything away as much as I could before he returned, and we all had breakfast together. We are starting to polish off the leftovers now, so the next few meals may well be peculiar!

Cornelia was being funny again, jumping around and over us, at one point declaring: “Mummy’s tougher. Daddy thinner.” Hmmm, she may have a point right now!! 😂

Leaving Letaba Camp, we worked out the route that would most optimise our chances for game viewing (particularly for the big cats that had so far eluded us), taking us on various loops off the main road.

There are various spots where you are permitted to get out of the car and walk around, and the best pit stop for us was on the bridge over the Olifants River which has a view on both sides that was like an amazing oil painting. An eagle swooped around, a waterbuck was relaxing in the sunshine and a small crocodile was hanging out nearby. It felt like a real life scene from the Lion King (minus the lions…!).

We drove for a couple of hours before stopping at Satara, a very popular test camp, with a large shop and restaurant. I’d made sandwiches, so we sat in the garden area to eat, hoping the hornbills and other birds wouldn’t steal them away. Food scoffed, we checked out the shop and came away with various small souvenirs, including a jar of marula and lemon marmalade, which sounds delicious. I’m hoping to get that one to New Zealand unbroken, so Mum can enjoy it with me next week!

From there, we continued our search for lions and leopards but despite being on a road popular with the creatures, we could not spot either. We did various loops off the main road too, but again, not a cat in sight!

We started listening to Ratburger on the way from Satara to Orpen, our rest camp for the night. Ian and I were giggling away at David Walliams’ brilliant storytelling, and Cornelia now loves the idea of a pet rat… 😳

We arrived at Orpen, passing a beautiful giraffe on the way, and checked in. Our safari tent was a 4km drive away – #35 – but when we arrived, the first thing we noticed was a swarm of wasps covering the outside sink in our kitchen area. We couldn’t get near it, and it would’ve rendered the whole kitchen and outdoor dining area useless. I rang Orpen reception, and the helpful lady had another empty tent – #31 – that we could use, but we needed to return to swap keys. The new tent’s sink and kitchen looked fine, so we drove back to exchange keys. When I went in to reception, the receptionist said she also had #34 free. Oh, decisions, decisions!! With apparently no difference between the two, I asked which she would choose and her immediate response was 34, so that’s what we went with!

There were a few wasps in the sink there, but I boiled a kettle for tea, and poured the rest down the plughole, dispersing a few of them and dispatching the rest. An unfortunate vervet monkey devoured one of them, and was making the most dreadful noises afterwards!

Ian built a fire and I started the baked potatoes off in the microwave (yes, we had a microwave!!!), then wrapped them up in foil and popped them in the charcoal to crisp them up.

They were scrummy! We had tuna, cheese and beans with them, and ate them outside on our balcony while a hyena skulked around, walking up and down by the electric fence keeping him out of the campsite.

I took Cornelia off for a shower while Ian washed up, and at one point he came in, slightly nervous, unsure whether an animal has managed to get through the fence and was rather too close to him. It was dark outside and he hadn’t hung around to find out, but when I checked (see earlier note about Mummy being tougher), it was the same hyena crunching around, and he was still outside the boundary fence!

Cornelia had her feet scrubbed in the sink after her shower as they are so completely filthy. I cut her nails right down but they were still full of dirt! A good scrub with Matthew’s old nail brush worked a treat. I suspect they won’t stay clean for long! Once she was dry, she climbed into bed, and Daddy read her a couple of stories. I gave her a quick cuddle, then as she went to sleep, Ian and I sat outside listening for sounds other than the hyena, before also going to bed. Our last night of camping!

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